Fred McDonald was born in Orange, Texas on January 7, 1929. He attended public school in Orange and was a graduate of Orange High School. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Sam Houston State University and in 1950 received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music. From 1950 until 1952, Fred taught band at Texas City Junior and Senior High Schools. He left Texas City for one year, in 1952-53, to be band director at White Oak High School, but returned to Texas City as band director at Levi Fry Junior High School from 1956 to 1959. In 1959, Fred moved to Freeport, Texas to be Director of Bands at Brazosport High School, a position he held until 1969. He moved to Clute, Texas, in 1969 to a new school, Brazoswood High School. He remained there until 1974. In the fall of 1974, Fred was offered and accepted the opportunity to direct the marching band and teach ear training at Sam Houston State University while finishing his Masters degree. Following that year, he returned to the public school ranks at Sweeney High School where he remained until his retirement in 1985. In his last six years of teaching, Fred taught ninth grade English following serious heart surgery.
Fred had a contest record that included 21 first divisions and 2 second divisions in marching; 25 first divisions 2 second divisions, and 1 third division in concert; 27 first divisions and 1 second division in sight-reading; 8 first divisions at the Corpus Christi Buccaneer Festival; 3 first divisions at the Tri-State Festival in Enid, Oklahoma; 2 first divisions at Six Flags Over Texas; and 1 first division at Six Flags Over Georgia. He took the Texas City band to Mexico City in 1951 to participate in the Lions International Parade and won second place. In 1953, Fred took the White Oak High School Band to New York City to participate in the Lions International Parade and won second place with them. In 1958, the Brazosport High School band participated in the Lions International Parade in Chicago and won third place.
Fred was chosen to be the associate conductor to Dr. Frederick Fennell at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan with the All-American Youth Honor Band. He served three terms as Region band chairman for TMEA, has done sight-reading clinics at both TMEA and TBA, served as clinician for numerous All-Region, All-District, and individual bands, and judged in nine of the regions in Texas.
Fred married Alice Joyce and they have three children; Laura Louise Huebel of Seabrook, Cynthia Ann Mann of West Columbia, and Norman Wade McDonald, band director at Dickinson Junior High in Dickinson. They are also blessed with seven grandchildren.
Fred McDonald treasures the thousands of young musicians he has been associated with, including dozens of successful band directors and many, many useful and productive citizens. As he stated, “in just the past year, two ex-students have won prestigious national awards in band directing. My son, Wade, was awarded the Sudler Cup for excellence as junior high band director at Dickinson, and Bill Watson’s Spring High School Band won the Bands of America Grand National Championship for marching bands in the Indianapolis Hoosier Dome.”
Fred McDonald embodies the good of our profession, producing good citizens, good music consumers, and superior music producers. Texas has been lucky to have a Fred McDonald.